Adhesion molecules in cancer invasion and metastasis

Hippokratia 2005, 9(3):106-114

CH Golias, A Chralabopoulos, D Peschos, D. Maritsi, P. Charalabopoulos, A Batistatou
Physiology Dpt, Clinical Unit, Medical Faculty, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece
Pathology Dpt, Medical Faculty, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece


For more than one hundred years the question “what defines which organs and when will be affected in case of a disseminated cancer” expressed by Paget remains basically unanswered, despite the bulk of published studies regarding the cancer behaviour. ?? 1944, Coman developed the theory of adhesion forces regarding the cancer problem. Nowadays, it is known that the interactions either among cells (cell-cell) or among cells and substratum components (cell-matrix) are mediated by some molecules, named adhesion molecules. Until now, more than a hundred of adhesion molecules have been identified. Research on physiology, biochemistry, genetics, and biology so in basic as in clinical level, attracts with intense interest the attention of many scientists. In the majority of the human cancers it has been clearly demonstrated that alterations in the adhesion forces are implicated in the invasion and metastasis process. Furthermore, an effort to establish a role of adhesion molecules as potential biomarkers in various human malignancies is attempted. Involvement of adhesion molecules in diagnosis, prognosis and treatment possibly has been implicated in many cases of human cancer. Adhesion molecules comprise of five known families; cadherins, integrins, immunoglobulin gene superfamily (IgSF), selectins, and CD44. In the present article a global approach of the whole subject is attempted. In addition, the role of some adhesion molecules in carcinogenesis is discussed in some detail.